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Conversations with the Four Player Types

Conversations with the Four Player Types

Introduction

One common concern that we often hear from parents is regarding how to connect with their children. Busy schedules, coupled with the increased accessibility of games and gaming devices, have made it difficult for parents to bridge that gap. At COMEBACK, we do not just see how games have led to a disconnect, but also how we can also leverage on the games to build back that connection. In this post, we aim to highlight some ways that parents can connect with their children – by adopting the right approach and having targeted conversations based on the child’s individual personality.

Picking the appropriate time.

Before we delve into the how, we must first discuss the when. Typically, we always advise parents to steer away from having conversations with their children in the midst of their games, whenever possible. Gamers tend to be fully focused on their games and in-game communications, which leave little room for proper conversations to happen outside of it. As such, a typical response tends to be brief and even one-sided. Worst yet, a frustrated gamer may even blame their losses on you. Not a good start for a conversation!

Appropriate timings tend to be periods where the child is not engaged in any games, and/or in-game conversations. Better yet, catching them right when their gaming session ends can be a good opportunity – they might still be fresh with emotions from the previous games which can compel them to share more.

Taking the right approach.

It is not uncommon for parents to face resistance from their child when first probed about their games. The thing is, many gamers may have faced disregard and disapprovals from adults regarding their games, and hence might be expecting the same response again. Therefore, it is critical for parents to adopt the right approach toward engaging the child, which can be elaborated into three key points:

  1. Be upfront about your intentions. Do expect that most gamers would be onguard when you first approach, and constantly second-guessing about your intentions. Consider starting the conversation with why you are approaching them in the first place. Sharing about your intention to learn more about games in order to understand them better, can help to defuse some of the initial resistance. 
  2. Approach with genuine curiosity. One common observation among parents is that the gaming world can be quite daunting to understanding. This is further fuelled when their children use gaming terminology and lingos. Just like asking them about any other hobbies, be open about your lack of knowledge and ask them to clarify. Most gamers are largely understanding about this aspect, and are willing to share once they know you are genuinely interested.
  3. Refrain from judgements. Avoid expressing disapproval right from the get-go (e.g., you are playing too much!”), as this can often end the conversation swiftly and hinder future conversations. Understandably, many parents share their concerns out of goodwill, particularly when their children have been excessively gaming and neglecting other aspects of their lives. However, we must stress that building the connection first is the foundation toward making the necessary changes.

Some parents might find that their child is taking longer than expected to warm up, despite adopting the right approach. There is no quick fix. Connection may take a longer period and numerous attempts to eventually develop, depending on the child’s personality and the level of defensiveness that they have adopted over the years. These attempts can be viewed as the child testing the waters to know that you are genuinely reaching out to them. Afterall, they want to know that it is a safe space for them to begin sharing.

Four Player Types

Once the child is willing to be engaged, the next step is navigating the conversations about their gaming world. Understanding the child’s player type can help you to guide the conversations toward their interest and facilitate sharing. If you have not done so, we would highly recommend you to first read up on the four player types in our blog post to have a basic understanding. Parents may also direct their child toward our player type test in order to know which player type their child belongs to. 

Achievers

Achievers desire to be seen as being competent over others. This motivates them toward seeking for achievements through games, such as achieving high ranks or levels, acquiring strong in-game characters and items, and many more. Essentially, these achievements serve as trophies that illustrate their competency, and it is not uncommon to hear achievers declaring and striving for big goals (e.g. joining a professional esports team).

Conversations with achievers would usually revolve around them sharing about their in-game achievements and goals. For example, they may show you their in-game trophies, replay video-recorded moments of their games (e.g. making an impressive game-deciding play), or sharing with you their game-related aspirations. 

Although all these may sound like bragging attempts, achievers are ultimately just looking for affirmation. Simply listening and even affirming their efforts can go a long way to making future conversations happen, even if the achievements or goals may seem trivial or even unnecessary. Afterall, their willingness to share means that those achievements do matter to them. Here are some game-related handles to facilitate early conversations with achievers:

  1. “What are some of your proudest achievements?”
  2. “What are your best characters and items?”
  3. “What is the highest rank you have achieved?”

Socializers

Socializers desire to feel a sense of belonging in the community. Games, particularly multiplayer ones, provide the opportunity to participate in social activities with other gamers. They enjoy the thrill of simply playing with others, interacting and having conversations whilst playing – in fact, you may find some even talk more than they play!

Because socializers are so socially attuned, they are often in-the-know of the latest happenings and trends among their peers, or even the gaming community at large. Thus, conversations with them tend to revolve around sharing about their social interactions, discussing about their gaming peers and personalities (e.g., popular streamers), and even the latest gaming trends and topics.

While all these may appear as “small talk”, the socializers derive their sense of belonging through being in-the-know. Hence, it is important to listen without judgement and avoid trivialising their sharing. This helps them to fulfill part of their social needs with you and build that all-important connection for future conversations. Here are some game-related handles to facilitate early conversations with socializers:

  1. “Who are your favourite streamers?”
  2. “Who are the popular players in this game?”
  3. “What are the current trending games?”

Explorers

Explorers value having immersive experiences within a game itself. Unlike achievers and socializers, explorers do not actively require the participation of the gaming community, and can even be content with enjoying single-player games. Nevertheless, such games must be intriguing and captivating to them. This is typically in the form of a well-designed game world and characters, with deep storylines and unique features. They are naturally ‘kaypoh’ (a Singaporean slang for busybody) in the game world, as they often want to experience all the different aspects that the game world has to offer.

Conversations with explorers involve them sharing about all the interesting aspects in their games. This can include their favourite characters, interesting storylines, secret bosses that they discovered, and many more – basically anything that has captivated them in their games.

Hence, a typical conversation with an explorer can be expected to last longer compared to other player types. Parents need to take that into account, and refrain from starting conversations that may result in having to leave halfway. It may be necessary to set aside a certain amount of time for such conversations (e.g. one hour), as well as be upfront about the time you have together. Here are some game-related handles to facilitate early conversations with explorers:

  1. “What is the game about?”
  2. “What are your favourite characters?”
  3. “What are some interesting features of the game?”

Gurus

In the simplest sense, gurus desire knowledge and understanding. How this manifest is an innate desire to master their games completely. Unlike achievers, they are not overly concerned with how they perform compared to others, but are mainly focused on understanding how the game works and developing strategies to beat it. In other words, while achievers are outcome-driven, gurus tend to be process-driven. Gurus often have no qualms about replaying the same game multiple times, if it means being able to refine their current strategies further.

It is necessary to manage expectations when conversing with gurus. Conversations can be very short, direct, and seemingly one-sided – although this may not reflect any disinterest. This may be simply due to their nature of being rational and precise, as they may answer only when they are certain of it. Rather, they become disinterested when conversations become emotionally-charged, or revolve around very basic discussions (e.g. basic rules in their game) about the guru’s expert topic. Unless the parents are well-versed about games, it may be best to avoid the topic of games with gurus, as such conversations can become extremely technical and difficult to navigate through. Hence, we will provide some pointers toward how to engage a guru, instead of game-related conversational handles.

Parents wanting to engage gurus may want to consider the following points: avoid small talk, use logic and reasoning, and be prepared to lead the conversations. In any case, do not be offended about their short responses. Showing negative emotions, such as anger and frustration, is a quick way to disconnect from the guru.

A Little Adjustment Goes a Long Way

Through explaining the four player types, we hope that parents have a better understanding of how their children think and behave. This can provide some insight into how to approach and navigate through conversations with their child, based on their individual player types. In our work, we realise that sometimes a little adjustment in the way we approach, can spark the beginning of a healthy, two-way connection with the gamers.

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Game Dependency in Singapore – Secondary School Students 2020

Game Dependency in Singapore - Secondary School Students 2020

Introduction

Game dependency refers to a situation where gamers become dependent on games, engaging in a gaming lifestyle that disrupts some areas of their lives. Some areas of disruption include relationships, school or work performance, and personal health. The National Institute of Education (NIE) conducted a study¹ in 2010 on pathological video-gaming rates in Singapore, and reported a prevalence rate of 8.7%. In addition, Touch Youth Intervention – a division of Touch Community Services – reported local game dependency rates close to 11%, based on their internal findings. With the increased accessibility in gaming and mobile devices, game dependency rates can be reasonably expected to increase over the years. The aim of this study is thus to assess the current game dependency rate among Singaporean youths.

Methods

The survey was conducted on Secondary school students across seven different public secondary schools in Singapore. The COMEBACK Game Dependency Test (GDT) was used to assess for game dependency. It is a 20-question, self-report questionnaire developed by Registered Psychologist, Nicholas Gabriel Lim, that was adapted from the Gaming Addiction Screening survey utilised in the NIE study in 2010. The GDT consisted of additional questions to reflect the proposed criteria of Internet Gaming Disorder in the DSM-5, and can be accessed on the COMEBACK website (https://www.comeback.world/comeback-game-dependency-test/). A reliability analysis demonstrated that the GDT has excellent internal reliability scores, with a Cronbach α score of 0.9, well above the acceptance range of 0.7.

Each participant can possibly score within a range of 20 to 100. Scores between 20 to 59 indicates no game dependency, 60 to 79 indicates moderate game dependency, and 80 to 100 indicates significant game dependency. Game dependency prevalence is calculated based on the total amount of participants with moderate and significant game dependency.

Results

A total of 2765 Secondary school students had completed the survey. The findings reveal a game dependency prevalence rate of 19.4%, of which 15.4% were classified with moderate game dependency, while the remaining 4% were classified with significant game dependency. These results show a significant increase in game dependency prevalence from previous findings, with approximately one in five students experiencing some form of disruptions in their lives due to their gaming lifestyle.. 

Reference

  1. Choo, H., Gentile, D. A., Sim, T., Li, D., Khoo, A., & Liau, A. K. (2010). Pathological video-gaming among Singaporean youth. Annals Academy of Medicine, 39(11), 822-829. 
  2. Channel News Asia (2018). ‘As if it was something my whole life depended on’: For some gamers, hitting pause seems impossible. Retrieved from https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/technology/online-gaming-mental-health-disorder-who-10534450

To download a PDF copy of the report, you can go to: http://bit.ly/GDReport2020

Game Dependency in Singapore Secondary School Students 2020
Infographics of Game Dependency in Singapore Secondary School Students 2020
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Violent Games and Aggression

Violent games and Aggression

Does playing violent video games elicit aggressive behaviours among young gamers? This is a common question posed by many parents. After all, games are becoming increasingly accessible in recent years, with current and upcoming popular games being made available on the mobile device. Some research has shown that violent video games may elicit aggressiveness among young gamers, although these findings were met with numerous concerns by experts in the field¹²³. In general, if any effect was found, the effect that violent video games had on aggression is extremely small, accounting for less than 1% of the reason why any aggression was observed. Furthermore, this small effect was observed to occur only under certain circumstances. In this post, we will discuss the types of circumstances, and possible ways in moving forward.

Specific Personality Types

One such circumstance is the personality of the gamer. One researcher⁴ has found that violent video games were relatively harmless for most young gamers, except for those with specific personality traits.
The highlighted traits were:

  1. High Neuroticism – those generally prone to experiencing negative moods, such as anxiety and depression.
  2. Low Agreeableness – those that have a tendency to disagree with others, and may even exhibit lack of concern for other people.
  3. Low Conscientiousness – those that demonstrate impulsiveness and rule-breaking tendencies.

The research thus concludes that rather than every gamer, those with a combination of these traits were more likely to exhibit aggression with exposure to violent video games.

It is necessary to note that short-term display of such behaviours does not mean that the youth has these personality traits. Many youths often exhibit such behaviours in their adolescence phase as part of the developmental process, such as regularly experiencing negative emotions or demonstrating impulsive behaviours. Personality traits, on the other hand, represent long-term characteristics of an individual, and often require a trained professional and proper tools for an accurate assessment.

Hostile Family Environment

Another circumstance to consider is the family environment. One studyr⁵ has highlighted that young people living in hostile family environments are more susceptible to the aggressive effects of violent media. Hostile family environments include having family members that typically behave aggressively toward one another, and the regular occurrence of familial conflicts. Hence, young gamers who belonged to such families were more likely to behave aggressively when exposed to violent media, which in this study includes games and other forms of media (e.g., television).

Internal Beliefs toward Aggression

Another circumstance relates to the internal beliefs of the gamers. A more recent study⁶ has found that the negative effects of violent video games also depended on how young gamers perceived aggression. If they believed that behaving aggressively is acceptable in the first place, chances are they would likely display such behaviours as well.

Combined with the previous factor of family environment, these findings highlight the importance of considering not just the types of games and gamers, but also the external factors surrounding them (e.g., one’s family and peer environment), which can ultimately shape the beliefs of these young people. After all, much of one’s learning occurs through their social interactions in the environment (e.g., interacting with family, peers, community).

Recommendations

The current research has demonstrated that while violent games can elicit aggression, the concern goes beyond the types of games. In general, there are some strategies that concerned parents can work on:

  1. Know your child’s personality. Understanding their personality and temperament can help inform the amount of moderation needed as a parent, on their gaming preferences.
  2. Demonstrate non-aggressive behaviours in the family. While conflicts are bound to occur in the family, exhibiting peaceful ways to manage difficult conflicts and emotions helps to set a positive example for the young people to model.
  3. Equip them with social and communication skills. Imparting social skills such as empathy and peaceful negotiation empowers them to interact well and non-aggressively with others.

The responsibility of parenting does not have to be a solo journey, as the community presents helpful resources that can aid the parents in their journey and struggles. Through our COMEBACK program and 1-on-1 consultations, we work with gamers who experience disruptions, i.e.. uncontrollable negative gaming behaviour that affects school, family, social and other areas of their life. Feel free to contact us for more information.

References

  1. Ferguson, C. J. (2007). Evidence for publication bias in video game violence effects literature: A meta-analytic review. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 12(4), 470-482. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2007.01.001
  2. Ferguson, C. J. (2015). Do angry birds make for angry children? A meta-analysis of video game influences on Children’s and adolescents’ aggression, mental health, prosocial behavior, and academic performance. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10(5), 646-666. doi:10.1177/1745691615592234
  3. Prescott, A. T., Sargent, J. D., & Hull, J. G. (2018). Metaanalysis of the relationship between violent video game play and physical aggression over time. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – PNAS, 115(40), 9882-9888. doi:10.1073/pnas.1611617114
  4. Markey, P. M., & Markey, C. N. (2010). Vulnerability to violent video games: A review and integration of personality research. Review of General Psychology, 14(2), 82-91. doi:10.1037/a0019000
  5. Fikkers, K., Piotrowski, J., Weeda, W., Vossen, H., & Valkenburg, P. (2013). Double dose: High family conflict enhances the effect of media violence exposure on adolescents’ aggression. Societies, 3(3), 280-292. doi:10.3390/soc3030280
  6. Shao, R., & Wang, Y. (2019). The relation of violent video games to adolescent aggression: An examination of moderated mediation effect. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 384. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00384

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Gaming OR Studies – Motivations of an Achiever

Gaming OR Studies - Motivations of an Achiever

It is commonly believed that people get addicted due to the exhilarating nature of games. While video games are certainly arousing, my personal experiences seem to point at the cause of something deeper. Take it from me; after all, I used to be described as a ‘game addict’ by my own parents.

My Gaming World

You see, my growing up life was characterized by excessive amounts of gaming. I often gamed throughout the day and into the wee hours of the night, only catching up on sleep the very next day – in class. Skipping school was a routine tradition, as I often alternated between taking MCs, forging parents’ letters, or straight up without reason.

You may wonder: why doesn’t my parents do anything? Do they not care? The thing is, they were both busy working to make ends meet and had little time to supervise me. The situation further expounded when my father was sent overseas to work, leaving the entire burden on my mother to manage both her career, housework, and myself. She did make some effort, conducting nightly spot checks and implementing security locks – measures that were easy to navigate through with time. In the worst case scenario, I could simply head over to a friend’s house, or a nearby LAN shop to play. Gaming meant everything to me.

My motivation toward games was simple: it was a drive toward achievements. I naturally gravitated toward popular, multiplayer games which were competitive in nature, giving me ample opportunities to triumph over others and prove myself (Modern examples included: Mobile Legends, Overwatch). To me, what solely mattered was the recognition and admiration from my peers that followed these achievements.

To be honest, there simply weren’t many opportunities for me to excel outside of games. I was barely coping with my studies and constantly met disappointment from both my teachers and parents. As a result, gaming was the only outlet. As I started to get better at a certain game, I would tunnel vision toward improving at it, sacrificing my studies and any other commitments in the process.

A Comeback Moment

Things began to change during my Secondary school. Somehow, I was scoring well in my English and Humanities subjects, likely due to a good foundation in English and a natural interest toward History. It started as a series of small wins, in the form of occasional awards, and praises from both my teachers and peers. For instance, I vividly remembered my English teacher reading out my compositions to the class as a form of recognition. Even though these little moments were limited solely toward my class, it ignited a desire to do well in those subjects and compete for top place with my fellow ‘rivals’. 

A critical moment happened during Secondary 4. As we belonged to the Normal Academic stream, we had to complete our ‘N’ levels in order to proceed toward Secondary 5. Back then, the ‘N’ level was assessed based on our best 3 subjects. These 3 subject system meant that I needed to only focus on one subject, as I was already proficient in my best two. ‘N’ levels came and went in a flash, although the results were certainly unexpected: I had scored first place for overall score in my cohort. 

The thing is, I wasn’t considered as the forerunner prior to the examinations, although that has certainly changed since then. The entire experience fuelled a desire to repeat the success for ‘O’ levels, which led me to take drastic measures: unplugging the computer, purchasing assessment books, and even seeking my own tutors. My parents were visibly proud for the first time, and wholly supportive in my decisions. I felt unstoppable. Long story short, I managed to achieve first place again among my Normal Academic cohort, and landed in the polytechnic course of my dreams. It was truly befitting of a comeback. 

Not Your Fairytale Ending

This is usually the part where I end with a ‘happily ever after’. The truth is, my Polytechnic years were a dark period, as I struggled to cope with my studies amidst being surrounded by hardworking and capable classmates. On the other hand, I was constantly being known among my peers for being good at games, thanks to the previous years of grinding. My motivation toward studies gradually dipped as I went back into my old ways of gaming.

Looking back at my life, I realized the existence of a swinging pattern – alternating between the extremes of gaming or studies – which continued to manifest itself over the years. The large swings seemed to depend on whichever I was capable of excelling and being recognized for, at that point of time. At least for myself, my game dependency certainly didn’t occur solely due to the thrilling nature of games. 

As I continued pursuing my education in Psychology, I became acutely aware of the motivational tendencies of different individuals. You see, current psychological research on player personalities have indicated the existence of different player motivations – mine predominantly being the ‘Achiever’. This has been widely observed in a competitive striving toward achievements and higher status among my peers, in both gaming and studies, which was facilitated by an ‘all-in’ mentality toward either.

Although gaming still remains an integral part of my life, I find myself capable of managing my priorities and channeling my drive toward long-term commitments (work, relationships), much with the awareness of my own psychological motivation and supportive role models. Could the change have happened earlier? Perhaps, although I take comfort in my story that it is never too late. All these have led me to be fully invested in the COMEBACK program, as my past experiences and Psychology background has equipped me with the critical lens toward understanding the gamers’ underlying motivations, along with the innate desire and ability to connect.